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Want to get more out of your dealership’s advertising?  A great way to improve your ROI is to look what your staff is doing with your advertising dollars.  Stop blaming your marketing, stop blaming the weather, the market and the economy.  I have visited dealers all over the United States, I can tell you from experience that one thing that separates successful dealers from the rest of the pack… the ability to implement and inspect sound daily processes. What are some of these daily processes you should put into action at your dealership to monitor improvement in ROI on advertising and increased revenue?  Well, if you are a GSM or higher, you should pay attention to the following:

  1. Are your sales people asking customers for their telephone numbers?
  2. Are they talking about the benefits of the vehicle their customer is test driving?
  3. Do they even know the differences in your models and your competition?  Do they talk about it during a test drive?
  4. Do they follow up with people who have shown an interest in buying a vehicle from your store?

You may think that these are obvious questions and there is no way your sales team isn’t doing these things…but you’d be surprised!

Bear with me, I’m going to briefly digress but for good reason.  Let me briefly tell you about two separate shopping experiences I had recently and the vast difference in professionalism between the two.

The first is when my wife was in the market for some small office space.  She began by researching the Internet for office space “hunter” companies, and then she called two of them and gave the parameters of her office space needs.

These companies don’t spend tens of thousands of dollars to attract customers and they don’t sell expensive products; but I was amazed at the professionalism and persistency of their follow up.  My wife received 6 calls within 1 week, of which 2 provided a live webinar to review the benefits and costs associated with the properties they recommended.  In each of those webinars the sales associate presented himself as the “consultant” by asking questions about my wife’s business, including budget, drive time, security, available office equipment and furniture.  And all of this for a 6 month, $700.00 a month lease agreement!  Wow!  Very impressive!

Fast forward just two weeks…My wife and I decided to purchase a truck and, having never previously owned one, we dedicated an entire day to learning more about our options.  We visited the following franchises during our search for a new vehicle:  Honda, Nissan, Ford, Chevy, GMC, Toyota and Dodge.

Upon entering the dealership and being approached by a sales person, I said the same thing to each one:  “We want a 4 door with leather and we are researching the differences between franchises.”  What’s the saying?…“Everything went south from there”?

Though each store did follow the state law and required a copy of my driver’s license and a sales associate accompanied us on the test drive, the experience was deflating to say the least.  No one asked about our needs…no one asked about what other trucks had we looked at…no one asked if we had a payment budget…and no one asked if we were interested in leasing or purchasing.  They barely told us anything about the vehicle we were test-driving.  We were told, “these seats are not only heated, they’re cooled too” and “You got to love the power in that engine.”  We were asked if we had a particular color in mind.  However, we did learn a lot...about things that had no relevance to our vehicle search and needs.  One salesman was very excited about going to the baseball game that night.  Another had only worked in the industry for 3 months, in which he sold 21, 19 and 24 cars, respectively because he knew “how people wanted to be treated.”  Another had plans with his two boys to go on a float trip as soon as he got off work.

One sales person had us test-drive a vehicle with a sold sticker on it.  I asked about that and he said “It’s not sold, some guy was going to pay cash, he set up two different delivery appointments and didn’t show up, nor did he call to cancel, I hate when customers do that, it’s so rude”.

I was sure I would get at least a follow up post card from each sales associate since I provided my license for the test drive and therefore each dealership had my address and one follow-up call because I requested one of the sales associates to do a locate for me.  Note: not one other person asked for my phone number.  Three days later, I called the guy who was mad at the customer who set up two delivery appointments but didn’t even call to cancel.  Want to know what he said?  “Oh I didn’t call you because we didn’t find anything in our search.”   And, in case you’re wondering, no thank you cards were received.

Can you believe it?  Six out of six…no walk around, no comparisons, no questions, and no brochures.

Can you say with 100% commitment that we didn’t visit your store?

Wonder how to control it? 

I’ll take you back to the top of this article.  Inspect what you expect.  When a salesperson returns from a test drive, ask him a couple of questions: What color do they want?  What other vehicles is your prospect looking at?  Then test it… Remember, salespeople know exactly what to tell you to make you go away.  So when you meet the prospect test the salesperson’s response to you. “So you’re looking for a black vehicle?” (The salesperson told you red, or “you want cloth” when the salesperson told you leather).  This is a tried and true way of cleaning up your internal process and to make sure that when your advertising works to get people in the door, your sales people are doing the best job possible to turn it into a sale.

~ Steve Dozier, National Director of Training @ DMEautomotive

Steve Dozier brings 15 years of experience in the automotive industry to DMEautomotive (DMEa). Before joining DMEa, he held upper level management positions in the retail industry. Steve also owned a consulting company that specialized in CRM and direct mail, which brought in $2 Million in Sales for approximately 5 years. While serving as a consultant Steve was consistently recruited by the top 3 CRM firms of that time. Steve started at DMEautomotive in a managerial position overseeing the Direct-to-Dealer team, and is now responsible for developing and growing DMEa University; DMEa’s in-house dealer training organization. Steve is married with two children and enjoys scuba diving and boating in his free time.

Originally posted on DMEautomotive’s Blog, which focuses on marketing in the automotive industry.  

Bart Wilson
Steve, a great way to look at dealer advertising. We would always be concerned that our message reached the right audience but never really looked and make sure our sales staff was sold on the message. I am not a fan of free giveaways because I saw them drive traffic but not sales. Maybe instead of blaming the message I should have looked at how the salespeople viewed free giveaways.
Steve Dozier
I have a huge advantage of watching stores in action on a national level. Not all, but many stores that are consistenly moving the needle, use giveaways to thier advantage.....they MAKE thier sales people take a test drive and do a quality walk around. You want a free umbrella, you've got to give me your number and answer a few questions. Here's the question I have for store that don't use giveaways.... Do you think the guy who came in for his free umbrella is NEVER going to buy another vehicle again?. Did you just give him the umbrella or did you make him take a test drive? Did your sales person even think to ask a few basic questions? When will you be in the market, can I contact you about your vehicle needs? What's your automotive budget? YOU are now the only store in town that has this information! The more test drives you do, the more vehicles you'll sell, PERIOD. Maybe not today, maybe not next month. But you would be ABSOLUTELY AMAZED at how many people come to these stores literally 6,7,12 months after they got thier free umbrella after they took a test drive and got educated BECAUSE of a quality walk aroundon a vehicle and decided that WHEN they get in the market, they would buy one. Think about it, they came to your store, they got that education, they made that decision,because of a quality walk around.....6,7,12 months ago.... And now they're back to purchase a vehicle... And you thought they were just there for the umbrella! You HAVE TO inspect your daily processes to make sure you're staff is handling EVERY OPPORTUNITY. BTW, We've since gone to three more stores.. not one follow up call. Why? No one asked for my number. That makes 9 stores... ZERO follow up! Steve Dozier Director of Training

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